Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Muhammad The Intelligent Prophet: Four Mandatory Attributes

In the Introduction, we have mentioned that Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him, has many virtues, but four of them are singled out as mandatory.  These are siddiq (truthful), amanah (trustworthy), tabligh (deliver) and fathonah (intelligent).

These attributes, however, apply to all prophets and not just to Muhammad, for no prophet can be a liar, untrustworthy, hiding the message, or stupid. 

As for the first three attributes, it is folly to put a degree to these, saying for example that one prophet is more truthful than the other.  Truthfulness is not a matter that has hue and color.  One is either truthful, or is not. 

Likewise with trustworthiness and conveyance of the message.  One is either trustworthy, or is not; just like one either conveys the message, or does not.  But these two have their hues and colors.  One can be trusted on one thing and not another, and one can convey the message less fully or less intelligently than others.  In the case of the prophets, however, all of them are fully trustworthy, and all delivered the message as they are supposed to.

Intelligence, however, is a matter of degree.  Not all intelligent people are equally intelligent.  To borrow the lingo of George Orwell, we may say that all prophets are intelligent, but some prophets are more intelligent than others.

I would say that Prophet Muhammad has carried out his mission more intelligently as compared to all prophets before him, which lead to his resounding success not achieved by any other prophets.

This statement is perhaps a little heretical, for prophets cannot be compared that way.  After all, Muhammad, upon him be peace, is the Seal of the Prophets.  His success was ordained.  He cannot fail in his mission, or succeed only nominally, like some other prophets.  For, if Muhammad had failed to achieve what he has been destined to achieve, then the light of prophethood would fade, on account of he being the last Prophet.

That said, it is also true that if we do not venture to think less conventionally, then we would miss some of the findings that can only be found through that unconventional path.  After all, how can we find if we do not seek, as the popular Biblical saying goes.

Now, that Muhammad is truthful and trustworthy is well known.  Only the disbelievers or the orientalists would deny it.  He is even called al-Amin (the truthful and trustworthy) even before he assumes the office of prophethood. 

Muhammad the Prophet is not known to tell lies.  Even his archenemy, Abu Jahal, confirms this simple fact when the latter said:  “It is not that I accuse you of lying, but I have no faith in the religion that you bring.”

As for his trustworthiness, he is not known to break promises or to renegade agreements.  Even his enemies would feel at ease entering into an agreement with him, because they trust that Muhammad would fulfill his part of the bargain.  If they ask him to keep a secret, they know that their secrets are safe with Muhammad. 

The story of his migration to Madinah tells this fact amply.   All leading companions had migrated before the Prophet, except for Abu Bakar and Ali.  As for Abu Bakar, the Prophet wanted him to be his traveling companion.  As for Ali, he was tasked with two important duties. 

The first was to sleep in the Prophet’s bed the night the Prophet planned to leave, which happened to be the same night his enemies attempted to assassinate him.  Ali’s second duty was to return all the precious materials belonging to the Prophet’s enemies which were trusted under his care.  You see, even his enemies trusted him more with their belongings than the people of their kinds.

As for his conveyance of the message, delivering Islam to mankind, this too is amply narrated.  It goes without saying that if Muhammad does not deliver, there will be no Islam in this world.  It is a fact that Muhammad the Prophet does not only deliver, but deliver truthfully, intelligently, and in the manner exactly as it should be delivered, although at times, some of what he has to deliver are the direct hit on him.  There are many examples on this, but the often quoted one is Surah Abasa (Chapter 80).  

In this surah, Allah is chiding the Prophet for frowning and turning his face from the blind man who came to ask some questions while he was busy debating the leaders of Makkah, trying to persuade them to accept Islam.  When the blind man asked him question, the Prophet ignored him.  When he asked again, the Prophet frowned and turned his face away, because the blind man was disturbing him from doing his job. 

The blind man did not realize it, because he was blind, but Allah did not consider the Prophet’s behaviour to be proper.  “As for he who thinks himself without need, to him you give attention,” Allah rebuked. “But as for he who came to you striving [for knowledge],” Allah added, “from him you are distracted.”  

This surah and many others are hitting the Prophet directly.  If he were to be less honourable, he could have “polished” these verses a little.  But no, the Prophet delivers what he is supposed to deliver exactly as it should, although he is the object of those criticisms.

To recap, the stories and narrations about his truthfulness, trustworthiness, and the fact that he always conveys the message exactly as he should, are amply illustrated.  All we need to do is to read the books, search the net, or listen to lectures.

His intelligent ways in approaching his mission, handling his supporters, treating his enemies, strategizing the wars, organizing expeditions, disseminating messages, solving problems, making decisions, organizing mass movement, managing complaints and grievances, responding to accusations or difficult questions, untying knotty dilemmas, etc., however, are less highlighted.

No doubt the examples for these are plentiful, but they are rarely highlighted from the angle of his intelligence.  As we have said in our earlier piece, Muhammad is always depicted as a virtuous man, but he is rarely depicted as someone who deals intelligently with everything that comes to him.

The much touted example in this regard is his brilliant solution during the rebuilding of Kaabah, which occurs about five years before he assumes the Office of Prophethood. 

As history tells us, Kaabah was badly damaged after a flood and the Quraysh decided to rebuild it.  The rebuilding required some demolition, and when Kaabah was demolished, they had to take out the much revered Black Stone (Hajar Aswad).  When the time came for putting back the Black Stone to its place, the Quraysh argued and fought among themselves.  Each clan started to invoke their superiority and wanted the honor of putting the Black Stone for their clan.  War almost broke out until a more sensible one among them suggested the matter to be decided by the first person entering the mosque the next morning.

It so happened that Muhammad was the first person to enter.  When the leaders of Quraysh saw Muhammad, who was not yet a prophet at that time, they exclaimed: “Here comes al-Amin.  We accept.”  Meaning, they will abide with whatever decision Muhammad would make.

They told him of their argument and asked him to decide the matter for them.  Right away the Prophet asked for the garment.  He spread it on the ground, put the Black Stone on it, and asked the head of each clan to carry the stone to the place where it belonged.  Finally, he put the Black Stone at the right place himself. Everyone was satisfied with his brilliant solution.  He not only preserved the honor of every clan, but also managed to avert the probable war among the clans of Quraysh. 

What he had shown is pure brilliant, a thorough understanding of the situation, comprehending its complexity.  And he had shown his intelligence in providing the solution satisfactory to all parties.  But other than this story, rarely are other stories narrated in light of his intelligence, or his intelligent ways in approaching or handling them.

In the subsequent installments, we shall narrate some stories alluding to this fact, insyaAllah.

Stay tune.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this blog post. It gave me more about how smart Rasul Muhammad was.

    thank you again